Sunday, September 25, 2016

For a Continuing Church, by Sean Michael Lucas -- a brief review

Those who like their history sanitized and scrubbed won't enjoy this book, but it is well worth the read.
Lucas traces over the course of the 20th century the background leading to the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America in 1973. Courageous ministers and laymen took stands for biblical authority, evangelical commitments, and the reformed faith in the face of growing heterodoxy and authoritarianism in the southern Presbyterian Church.
If only the story could be told fully in those terms! Even those with iron wills often have clay feet, and the same Presbyterian conservatives that defended orthodoxy most often also wanted to defend the southern way of life, including commitments to racism and segregation that they claimed were rooted in the Bible. While the stain of racism defended in biblical terms was diminishing to a significant degree by the time of the PCA's founding in 1973 largely due to younger ministers who repudiated that history, it is necessary to recognize the role that the south's racial culture played in conservative Presbyterian's 20th century.

This is an important story, well told.

If I had one request of the author, I would have liked to see more about conservatives in the south prior to 1950 that disagreed with the majority on social questions. Does silence in that regard in this work mean that there were none? It would be interesting to know.

That said, this book is readable and meticulously researched. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Specifically Religious

I am in the midst of reading Kathryn Greene-McCreight's marvelous "Darkness Is my only Companion: a Christian Response to Mental Illness."

The book has been illuminating for me, and I would encourage Christians to read it, as this is an area where the church has not thought clearly, but needs to. I hope to write a review of it once I complete the reading.

While the book deserves a review that keeps its main points in view, a statement made by the author that I read this morning jumped out at me because of its wider applications. While hospitalized due to her mental health condition, she attended once a "Spirituality Group" led by the chaplain, but did not return. Explaining that decision, she wrote, "It was generically religious. I am not generically religious."

Better than I could have said it myself, that explains my indifference bordering on hostility toward the American civil religion that seems to excite so many people.  I suppose it means something to the generically religious.

I am not generically religious.